In this April 16, 2018 photo, Washington, D.C., native Callie Gonyea, a second-year teacher at Ellis Elementary School in Denver, joined about 400 other teachers at a protest at the Colorado state Capitol. Colorado teachers are calling for higher salaries and increase funding for schools, prompting some voters to question where the state’s taxes on marijuana are going. (AP Photo/Colleen Slevin)
By Kathleen Foody
DENVER (AP) — Colorado teachers are protesting for higher salaries and increased money for schools, prompting questions about why the state’s booming marijuana sales have not fixed the funding problems.
Amendment 64, the 2012 constitutional amendment that 55.3 percent of voters approved to allow adults to buy cannabis, got a boost from a commitment to send millions of dollars to Colorado schools. But that requirement amounts to less than 2 percent of the state’s multibillion-dollar education budget, and other marijuana taxes don’t make up the shortfall between what schools need and the state money they get.
Here are things to know about the relationship between cannabis taxes and Colorado’s education funding:
How is marijuana taxed?
The first is a 15 percent excise tax charged when cannabis is sold by a grower to a retail store, or a business that makes products such as Edibles, Extracts, or Topicals that can be consumed. It is based on the state’s calculation of the average market rate for recreational cannabis. Medical cannabis isn’t subject to the tax.
Customers then pay a 15 percent sales tax when buying recreational cannabis or products, but
patients buying medical marijuana or products are only charged the state’s general 2.9 percent sales tax, plus any local sales taxes.
Where do the taxes on marijuana go?
Amendment 64 required the first $40 million in taxes on wholesale marijuana to go into a fund for school construction or maintenance.
Dividing up Colorado’s state sales taxes on marijuana gets more complicated. Ten percent automatically goes to local governments. A $30 million contribution to a state public school fund controlled by the Department of Education also is required.